Supreme Court overturns ex-mayor’s bribery conviction, narrowing scope of public corruption law

The Supreme Court overturned the bribery conviction of a former Indiana mayor on Wednesday in an opinion that narrows the scope of public corruption law.

The high court sided 6-3 with James Snyder, who was convicted of taking $13,000 from a trucking company after prosecutors said he steered about $1 million worth of city contracts their way.

Snyder, a Republican, has maintained his innocence, saying the money was payment for consulting work.

His attorneys argued before the high court that prosecutors hadn’t proved there was a "quid pro quo" exchange agreement before the contracts were awarded, and prosecuting officials for gratuities given after the fact unfairly criminalizes normal gift giving.

Former Portage Mayor James Snyder arrives for his sentencing with his family at the federal courthouse in Hammond, Indiana, on Oct. 13, 2021. (Kyle Telechan/Post-Tribune/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The Justice Department countered that the law was clearly meant to cover gifts "corruptly" given to public officials as rewards for favored treatment.

Snyder was elected mayor of the small Indiana city of Portage, located near Lake Michigan, in 2011 and reelected four years later. He was indicted and removed from office when he was first convicted in 2019.